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Old 04-12-2014, 07:59 AM   #61
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I never quite understood how people like him got into high level authority positions in corporations in the first place.
So true.

I have avoided management because I have seen it.
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:10 AM   #62
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John D. Rockefeller knew what he was doing. He knew that it was cheaper to spend time up-front to design equipment properly than to buy the wrong equipment. I have worked for people that were 'much smarter' than JD. And ruined many projects.

A project Manager I once worked for tried to educate upper management with studies and examples that it was better to take sufficient time to prepare the project than to fast-track it. Obviously not a candidate for upper management.
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:47 AM   #63
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Makes me think of the old saw we used in the custom software business:

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Good/fast/cheap. Pick any two.
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Old 04-12-2014, 09:08 AM   #64
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Not sure what engineers are complaining about :-) there are days when I would take an engineering job in a heartbeat.
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Old 04-12-2014, 09:10 AM   #65
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Makes me think of the old saw we used in the custom software business:
Thank you for that blast from the past. Very true.

A Sr. V.P., a mentor to me, used that saying and others. One of my favorites: 'If the customer wants it bad, we can give it to them badly'.
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Old 04-12-2014, 09:40 AM   #66
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The reason I choke up the thread is that it is daytime here and y'all are sleeping.
Not all of us, Ed....
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:00 AM   #67
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The customer's overall project manager had a mantra: "Cheaper, better, faster". A friend looked at me in angst and said, "Cheaper, better, faster--disaster".
We always knew that you can have two but not all three of Cheaper, Better, Faster.
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:36 AM   #68
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I thought of this thread when I was reading about Clark Rockefeller, the con guy who through lies and networking talked his way into various jobs high level management jobs he had no experience in:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...21331878555032
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Old 04-12-2014, 01:12 PM   #69
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"Cheaper, better, faster"


Choose any two...
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Old 04-12-2014, 02:57 PM   #70
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We always knew that you can have two but not all three of Cheaper, Better, Faster.
But it is the engineer's job to push the envelope on all three. That's what progress is all about.

Now if you are purchasing existing equipment on the market, yes, you will likely need to determine the priorities between those three attributes.

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Old 04-12-2014, 06:20 PM   #71
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I was once reprimanded for using the word cheap, I was told instead to use cost effective.
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Old 04-12-2014, 09:33 PM   #72
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Back in the day, I was assigned to a team that was inventorying surplus complex MegaCorp equipment. I was the local rep. The rest of the team flew in from HQ. They were all engineers. The HQ inventory team brought multi-carbon copy inventory sheets. They spent several days and filled out hundreds of inventory sheets. Each sheet was pretty much filled with nomenclature. The HQ team divided the carbon copies and the originals and handed the various copies to the HQ team members. Then someone from the HQ team realized that they were all flying back to HQ on the same plane. A serious discussion developed over what they would do if the plane crashed. Finally, the leader of the HQ team said if the plane crashed, he was not going to worry about it! Fortunately, the plane did not crash.
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:18 PM   #73
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But it is the engineer's job to push the envelope on all three. That's what progress is all about.

Now if you are purchasing existing equipment on the market, yes, you will likely need to determine the priorities between those three attributes.

-ERD50
There is a job in project management waiting for you! T

Don't tie an engineers' hands. It takes time to optimize things. 2-out-of-3 is all you can get. If you think you can get 'em all, you're living in a dream world.
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:00 PM   #74
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But it is the engineer's job to push the envelope on all three. That's what progress is all about.

Now if you are purchasing existing equipment on the market, yes, you will likely need to determine the priorities between those three attributes.

-ERD50
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There is a job in project management waiting for you! T

Don't tie an engineers' hands. It takes time to optimize things. 2-out-of-3 is all you can get. If you think you can get 'em all, you're living in a dream world.
It is true that in most cases, and in all planning, you plan for only 2 out of three. But I do agree that sometimes it is possible to do something in a novel way that results in a much cheaper and better solution and get the project finished, because of its simplicity, faster. But it is maybe a once in a career happening. One can never make plans based on finding a novel solution to solve an old problem in a unique way, rather than incremental improvements, but it does happen.

But in my limited experience I have only seen it happen when engineers work autonomously with limited oversight or project reviews (which tends to weed out any novel approaches). It is magic when it does occur and fun to watch as the results of success where initial resistance eventually fades away to "of course this is obviously the way it should be done".
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:39 PM   #75
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But it is the engineer's job to push the envelope on all three. That's what progress is all about.
There is a job in project management waiting for you! T

Don't tie an engineers' hands. It takes time to optimize things. 2-out-of-3 is all you can get. If you think you can get 'em all, you're living in a dream world.
Are you kidding?

OK, maybe we are living in a dream world where computers, cell phones, TVs, and music players get... Cheaper, Better, Faster. But that 'dream world' is also our reality!

In my job as an engineer/manager, we were always pushed for (and measured on) cheaper (cut costs), better (improve quality), faster (increase production rates). And if we didn't deliver, they would find someone who would.

Your management let's you get by with 2 out of 3? That would have been my 'dream world'!

-ERD50
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:43 PM   #76
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It is true that in most cases, and in all planning, you plan for only 2 out of three. But I do agree that sometimes it is possible to do something in a novel way that results in a much cheaper and better solution and get the project finished, because of its simplicity, faster. But it is maybe a once in a career happening. One can never make plans based on finding a novel solution to solve an old problem in a unique way, rather than incremental improvements, but it does happen.

But in my limited experience I have only seen it happen when engineers work autonomously with limited oversight or project reviews (which tends to weed out any novel approaches). It is magic when it does occur and fun to watch as the results of success where initial resistance eventually fades away to "of course this is obviously the way it should be done".
Follow up on previous post - 'once in a career'? No way, it was expected of us each and every review period. You better do all three.

Granted, they would generally all be incremental improvements, but you made them in each area (cost, quality, production rates). And it was always a TEAM effort to get all three.

-ERD50
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Old 04-13-2014, 04:46 AM   #77
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Follow up on previous post - 'once in a career'? No way, it was expected of us each and every review period. You better do all three.

Granted, they would generally all be incremental improvements, but you made them in each area (cost, quality, production rates). And it was always a TEAM effort to get all three.

-ERD50
I thought I might get some push back on this and considered editing it, but decided to let it stay. Actually ERD50 I don't disagree with you. The rare occurrences I was referring to are times of paradigm shift (yes I hate that overworked word also), meaning where there is a dramatic new engineering technique that upsets the old accepted approach. In my experience one example of this was a test device that cut the size and energy consumption to 10% of the original and the cost to 5% of the original device, at the same time adding new features, getting better test results, and was engineered in less time than the previous method took. It was because it was a fundamentally different approach. This is I think rare, but does happen, and is partly responsible for that great march of progress you alluded to.

Then for the next dozen years and counting, after its acceptance, the incremental part that you referred to began. Several teams worked on the improvements, continually increasing performance, adding features, decreasing cost, etc.

A fundamentally different approach or device causes the company to have to discard the old one. So it has costs, so the cost benefit has to be striking, and is in my experience discouraged. That is why I mentioned that it seems mostly to occur in a small group left alone for a while.

But I do agree with you that for most of our careers we are challenged to do all three, albeit usually (or rather hopefully) in an incremental fashion.
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Old 04-13-2014, 05:11 AM   #78
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...
But in my limited experience I have only seen it happen when engineers work autonomously with limited oversight or project reviews (which tends to weed out any novel approaches). It is magic when it does occur and fun to watch as the results of success where initial resistance eventually fades away to "of course this is obviously the way it should be done".
I remember on new large system developments, putting newly minted engineers in a room and telling them to come up with a design for a key problem to see if they might come up with novel approaches that would solve some of those better, faster, cheaper issues.
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Old 04-13-2014, 07:23 AM   #79
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Are you kidding?

OK, maybe we are living in a dream world where computers, cell phones, TVs, and music players get... Cheaper, Better, Faster. But that 'dream world' is also our reality!

In my job as an engineer/manager, we were always pushed for (and measured on) cheaper (cut costs), better (improve quality), faster (increase production rates). And if we didn't deliver, they would find someone who would.

Your management let's you get by with 2 out of 3? That would have been my 'dream world'!

-ERD50
Is your point that planning and optimization can be short-cut?

Every engineer has those goals. We are much more conscientious than the people we work for. Those people most often have what can be nicely said as unrealistic expectations. In my business there is a concept called "fast-track" where design functions that used to be in necessary sequence are now done simultaneously. That is possible only in limited situations but it has been extended to all projects. Of course, there is a lot of re-work required when you do that, but now they are saying, quality means no re-work. Estimates done by conscientious engineers and technicians are cut in half. The next question is, what do you want us to leave out? In the end, it still takes exactly as long as the estimator said it would.

They want 3oo3. We have to say that we can meet their unrealistic goals because we cannot push back. But Project Management in my business only cares about on time and under-budget. They don't care if it works or not.

I do not have high regard for Project Management today. Most project engineers are no better than high-school dropouts, as well. Companies just throw people at a project, hopefully at as low a wage as we can get them to leave McDonalds for. Experience costs too much, and if you really know what you are doing you are too hard to control

In my 40 years in the business, plants that once took 18 months from letter of intent to commissioning (note: small plants and big plants take the same amount of time) can now take twice as long (and these are 'fast-track' projects!), consume more engineering hours (the new business model for engineering companies) and are more expensive than inflation can account for. They often have unnecessary start-up problems. This is what you get from Cheaper, Better, Faster.

But we are meeting a demand. It is the customer who demands these things. They got rid of their engineering departments long ago and now have only MBAs to talk to.

We can work smarter but we are being required by management to work stupider. That's OK. They get paid for selling man-hours and I get paid by the hour and sometimes I can make a difference.

Your industry may be different than mine.
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Old 04-13-2014, 09:18 AM   #80
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Let's build a crude oil pipeline spanning a dozen states and two countries "cheaper, better, faster'......

(even getting FERC approvals is mid boggling. Project delays, etc can hit you from several different fronts and be totally unknown.)

I know, let's blame the engineers on this one.
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